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Why are men so emotional?
November 18, 2012 1:54 PM   Subscribe

"I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call “emotions,” and the emotions that men typically express are somehow considered by men to be something else." Jen Dziura in The Gloss: "When men are too emotional to have a rational argument."
posted by escabeche (85 comments total) 76 users marked this as a favorite

 
Isn't rationality just an approach? We talk all we can about rationalization as a form of normalization, compromise. What emotional intelligence but a trained person could forget the moment we had to accept things as they were, because Y won't change X. That's life, not this unfeminist, reactionary BS over why X is less valuable than Y.
posted by parmanparman at 2:09 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anger? EMOTION. Hate? EMOTION. Resorting to violence? EMOTIONAL OUTBURST.

And all less rational and more harmful than those emotions we attribute to women. Emotion-wise, women win, and men lose, big time. No wonder there's a "War on Women". They are kicking our asses, in terms of big-R Reality. We even had to invent these things called Money and Economics so we could have a way to artificially make ourselves the Winners. The more I think about it, the more angry I am against my fellow penis-owners. I need to sit back and watch some MLP:FiM
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:11 PM on November 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


...tell that man, “Stop it, you’re getting emotional. I can’t talk to you when you’re so emotional.”
Oh man. If only that would work with the shouty douchebags I know.

I might have to try it. Especially at work.
posted by Katemonkey at 2:15 PM on November 18, 2012 [41 favorites]


“Stop it, you’re getting emotional. I can’t talk to you when you’re so emotional.”

Is probably just as effective as telling anyone to "Calm down" or to "Chill out"
posted by mulligan at 2:23 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Passion does cloud reason. But it's an equal opportunity disability which affects both genders.

I'm personally rather partial to some male emotionality. For example, I have thought often lately about the President's tearful thank you to supporters. I remain genuinely touched by this display of emotion from someone who is normally the most reasonable and calm (and intelligent) person in the room.
posted by bearwife at 2:29 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you are attempting to discuss men and their emotional nature and the first and only emotion you can come up with is anger...I have to honest that beyond being wrong I find it insulting .
posted by Rubbstone at 2:41 PM on November 18, 2012 [19 favorites]


I read a book that sussed this all out back in the late 1980's. I can't remember the title -- something about critiquing biological determinism as applied to gender differences.

What I especially remember was that at some period in history (Victorian Era or more recent?) there was an argument that because sperm are so "active" and swimmy, men are more naturally better at being creative. And women, lacking this, are clearly better suited to drudgery work that doesn't take a lot of intelligence but takes concentration over time.

The author turned it around and said one could just as easily conclude that men are impulsive (because sperm are darting all over the place and die quickly) and shouldn't be trusted to make important decisions.

Which is to say --- biological explanations of human behavior always end up being so self-serving.
posted by vitabellosi at 2:42 PM on November 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


The article makes some good points - the (particularly american) style of cable news "debates" in which nobody really does anything but shout is fairly pointless and doesn't really allow any proper discussion of the topic. Aggression is probably a problem among men more than women, but I'm not sure if anger is. I have seen plenty of angry female car drivers and I've had plenty of fights with my sisters in which there was no shortage of anger on their sides. In my experience, particular people tend to be quicker to anger, but it's not a trait of any particular gender.

I'm not sure if the Rachel Maddow clip embedded on the first page is a good example. Beyond the fact that both of them cut over each other quite a bit (Maddow doesn't give Castellanos any time to explain his point in the beginning, and then comes out with a nice big shouted "wow" along with a clap, which is hardly conducive to reasoned discussion), the topic really isn't as clear cut as it seems.

That women make less than men is a fact, but the way that it's phrased by Maddow in that video - she repeatedly says "for equal work" - isn't so clear cut. It'd be hard to find any large company in america which paid two recent graduates entering the same role different amounts simply based on gender (although I'm sure historically that's happened). What pushes the gender pay gap is a combination of industries (women tend to enter lowered paid industries) and the glass ceiling. An upper management job is probably higher paid, but it's not "equal work" to lower roles.
posted by leo_r at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


And if anyone ever sees a woman with road rage, they should write it up and send it to a medical journal.

Study Reveals Women More Prone To Road Rage Than Men
posted by Drinky Die at 2:47 PM on November 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


An upper management job is probably higher paid, but it's not "equal work" to lower roles.

You're absolutely right - those in "lower roles" generally have more difficult, more strenuous, and more intellectually challenging tasks than those involved in "upper management".
posted by jammy at 2:48 PM on November 18, 2012 [22 favorites]


Maddow is so totally PMSing in that video. You can tell because she disagrees with what the man is saying.

oh, and leo_r:
both of them cut over each other quite a bit (Maddow doesn't give Castellanos any time to explain his point in the beginning, and then comes out with a nice big shouted "wow" along with a clap, which is hardly conducive to reasoned discussion)
Maddow was the one who had just been given the floor to speak. And the guy is kind of a Republican tool, so I have trouble feeling bad for him. And no, the "equal work" thing isn't so not-so-clear-cut as you imagine.
posted by uosuaq at 2:54 PM on November 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


I am about to ... deal ... with a co-worker.

This is a timely reminder to keep cold, completely rational and clinical, especially if/when she starts crying.

I work with emotional men, sometimes on the verge of hysteria.
I have, myself, in the past become extremely angry. These days I remove myself and go for a walk. It's just work.

Women just seem to fly off to the toilets for a good sob frequently to deal with it.
Men just probably back a healthy outlet.

In summation: we all suck in the workplace, just differently.

Study Reveals Women More Prone To Road Rage Than Men
Derail as it is, my anecdata doesn't support that at all.
(The article doesn't even define road rage. Is it being an angry driver, taking offensive actions, what?)
posted by Mezentian at 2:54 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Study Reveals Women More Prone To Road Rage Than Men

A study! Wait, no, even better: a self-report study! Everyone always tells it like it is on these. Always.

Wait, no even better better: "The study was commissioned by CareerBuilder — which, to be fair, has an interest in pointing out the dangers of commuting, since that might encourage more folks to use the site to look for new jobs."

But wait! Here's another study! And it says that "Statistically, young men are the most prone to road rage" and that "Men reported feeling a sense of rage more frequently than women. Fifty-six percent of the men surveyed said they experienced rage on a daily basis versus 44 percent of the women. More men also admitted to retaliating against others when they felt angry or provoked"

How could they have come up with such different results? How??
posted by jammy at 2:55 PM on November 18, 2012 [9 favorites]


You're absolutely right - those in "lower roles" generally have more difficult, more strenuous, and more intellectually challenging tasks than those involved in "upper management".
I totally agree. However, the argument made by Maddow was about "equal work". The argument that pay should reflect physical or mental difficulty is a completely different one. As I said before, there is a glass ceiling in the workplace. Women are paid less on average over the course of a career.
posted by leo_r at 2:57 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


That article makes a really excellent point that clarifies a lot of the problems that I have with contemporary public discourse and maybe even helped me illuminate for myself why it is that I chose to go into the sciences instead of, say, politics. It was one of those articles that says a lot of things that I have been feeling for a long time but had been unable to properly articulate. Thanks very much for helping me frame this subject for myself.
posted by Scientist at 2:58 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


How could they have come up with such different results? How??

I sense much fear in you.
Fear leads to anger.
Anger leads to hate.
Hate leads to the Emotion.
Emotion leads to irrationality.
Irrationality leads to taking part in self-reported surveys of dubious worth.

Begun, the gender wars have.
posted by Mezentian at 2:58 PM on November 18, 2012 [17 favorites]


Promoting rational discussion even as emotions grow heated, as the article suggests, would be a great first step. But particularly in personal relationships, a good next step would be to stop devaluing emotions altogether and to instead encourage and reward the ability to articulate one's own emotions and to hear those of other people. Too often, it seems like the facts that we try to debate "rationally" are just a smokescreen generated to obscure and defend the emotions.

I'm not saying that facts have no place. Obviously, they are very important. But, if all parties are acting in good faith, then contextualizing the facts within the researchers' motivations and the listeners' emotional reactions might lead more quickly to shared understandings or even solutions.
posted by salvia at 2:58 PM on November 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


Fifty-six percent of the men surveyed said they experienced rage on a daily basis versus 44 percent of the women.

But we found our at least one woman for the medical journal, woot! Is your name gonna be first or mine when we send in our findings?

This is incorrect. Anger? EMOTION. Hate? EMOTION. Resorting to violence? EMOTIONAL OUTBURST. An irrational need to be correct when all the evidence is against you? Pretty sure that’s an emotion. Resorting to shouting really loudly when you don’t like the other person’s point of view? That’s called “being too emotional to engage in a rational discussion.”

In my experience, all of this is generally regarded as emotional and is a common response in women in the political or pundit context. (Violence aside, maybe, but it's not like people like Coulter are above calling for it.)

I think passion and anger have their place in arguments, it's really infuriating to be treated like your views are invalidated because you are emotionally invested so I get that part of it. Political media tends to treat this like a game, anyone who gets too emotional as if this stuff matters is prone to be brutally mocked. Look at Howard Dean.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:00 PM on November 18, 2012


However, the argument made by Maddow was about "equal work". The argument that pay should reflect physical or mental difficulty is a completely different one.

Could you expand on this? Are you adhering to some strict definition of work that only relies on "job descriptions" and has no reference to the actual physical/mental work that is actually required to complete a task?

Put another way: Two folks had different "titles" - therefore they were doing different "work"?

Seriously, I'm not following you here...
posted by jammy at 3:02 PM on November 18, 2012


When I think of men in general, examples like Trump, Limbaugh and Rove never come to mind. They are clearly immature and under-developed as human beings, which is probably useful when you need a persuasive talking head that might best require a psychotic paranoid. It seems they're always plotting a childhood revenge with their politics. They and their listeners have no social sense that bragging about sticking to one's principles actually requires having honorable principles first, not just an opinionated need to be right.
posted by Brian B. at 3:07 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


In my experience, all of this is generally regarded as emotional and is a common response in women in the political or pundit context. (Violence aside, maybe, but it's not like people like Coulter are above calling for it.)

In your experience women express themselves more violently in their emotions than men? Do you work at a Roller Derby? Or are you just saying that "all of this is generally regarded" as being stuff women do?

p.s. For the record: my name comes first for the journals - cuz my legal name is Jammy A! (as in fckn A!)
posted by jammy at 3:16 PM on November 18, 2012


Anyway there is plenty of research that men are paid more than women for the same job titles in the same industry, even at the same organizations. A lot of that comes down to salary negotiations. Women are socialized to be less assertive than men, so they are less likely to negotiate a higher salary. Assertiveness is also perceived less positively when displayed by women than men, so women who do negotiate are less likely to be hired or to succeed in their negotiations. You can define "the same work" as narrowly as you like, and you'll still find that women are paid less than men. It's certainly an accepted fact in academic research.
posted by Scientist at 3:20 PM on November 18, 2012 [19 favorites]


In the field of academic researchers, I mean. Male faculty are paid more than female faculty and I've never heard anyone dispute that.
posted by Scientist at 3:21 PM on November 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


One of the things I love about my relationship with my wife is that she'll occasionally call me me from work and say, "Thing X happened to me at work today. Because I am socialized as a woman it is sometimes hard for me to gauge whether I am allowing myself to be walked all over or if this is something a man would be expected to accept too. So from your hyper-aggro perspective, is this something I should turn into The Hulk over?" We've used teamwork to our advantage, and she's learning to get way, way more aggressive when it's helpful to be so, like in salary and benefits negotiations.

I watched the video of Alex Castellanos being a condescending prick to Rachel Maddow, and I just wanted to reach right through the screen and beat the everloving snot out him.
uh-oh
posted by 1adam12 at 3:24 PM on November 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


"You're so passionate, I wish you were as right as you are passionate."

I could really just slap the mustache right off his smug, sexist face.
posted by Malice at 3:30 PM on November 18, 2012 [11 favorites]


"... or if this is something a man would be expected to accept too. So from your hyper-aggro perspective, is this something I should turn into The Hulk over?"

The answer to this is always: YES

But only because we should always turn into The Hulk, right? Smashing problems seems to be a very rational and effective strategy overall.
posted by jammy at 3:32 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


FWIW, I have told men I've worked with (I'm a dude for the record) something along the lines of "are you OK? You're yelling, you seem really upset right now. I can't really talk to you at the moment, you need to calm down".

It tends to work, sometimes people just need a bit of perspective.
posted by sp160n at 3:33 PM on November 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


Or are you just saying that "all of this is generally regarded" as being stuff women do?

Yeah, it's stuff both sexes do in charged conversations. Men more in general with violent rhetoric and actions for sure, but not with the other stuff in my experience. We are all emotional beings and the differences there are pretty minor. Where we get all messed up is in how we judge the outward signs of the emotion, and we judge people on that based on all kinds of crazy standards that make no sense.

("I think she's guilty, she isn't acting sad her kid is dead."

"Look at him crying! What a phony!")

I don't like when people try and undercut an argument solely on the basis of emotion regardless of who is presenting it. Some anger is justified, some isn't. Passion is a sign that you care one way or the other and you are invested in the argument, but that investment could be positive or negative.

Just thinking out loud here, not hammering any particular point.
posted by Drinky Die at 3:33 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I could really just slap the mustache right off his smug, sexist face.

See? This is where turning into The Hulk would be entirely appropriate.
posted by jammy at 3:34 PM on November 18, 2012


And if anyone ever sees a woman with road rage, they should write it up and send it to a medical journal.

I have wicked road rage but this is really just a small facet of my overall constant rage.
posted by elizardbits at 3:36 PM on November 18, 2012 [35 favorites]


Since when was expressing rage / shouting a stereotypically male emotional expression?

I lost my patience with the writer with this para: "If you involve me in any kind of debate about smart, poor kids not being able to obtain education, a tear will roll awkwardly down the side of my nose about every ten seconds. It’s cool. I’m still pretty articulate. Those tears are an appropriate response tragedy and injustice. In fact, I think having an appropriate emotional response to tragedy and injustice makes my arguments on the topic more credible, not less. Or maybe those tears are simply irrelevant. That’s fine — whatever’s going on with my eyes doesn’t shut down debate."
posted by Bwithh at 3:47 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


This article raised such a smart, provocative point! I really loved the thesis and she convinced me of her point in a few sentences.

Unfortunately I found the article kind of rambling and boring and stopped reading it after a page and a half.
posted by latkes at 3:57 PM on November 18, 2012


Since when was expressing rage / shouting a stereotypically male emotional expression?

Google "men express emotion through anger" and look through the results.

I find it hard to believe you have legit never heard of this before, honestly.
posted by sweetkid at 3:58 PM on November 18, 2012 [8 favorites]


"You're so passionate, I wish you were as right as you are passionate."

To be fair, this is a "debating tactic" (also called "being a dick") used by men against men. My eldest brother likes to wind you up in "debates," because he feels it's a way to score points. Which he can't do normally because his data is usually bad and his arguments rather feeble (he's the only member of the family who has not sharpened his rhetoric in higher education; he has an MBA, but I am pretty sure he took a course in "getting your way by being smug" rather than "rational argument? What is it?").

And, yeah, I would generally say anger is the most prevalent male emotion in much of western society because men aren't generally supposed to show open emotion. Therefore, the emotion you do see is when they have lost control (or when they have learned that they can "score points" by appearing to lose control).
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:06 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Anyway there is plenty of research that men are paid more than women for the same job titles in the same industry, even at the same organizations.

But those aren't the only relevant factors. For instance, there's also number of hours worked, work experience, etc. Men on average work longer hours than women. Thus, men on average make more money than women. That isn't gender discrimination, it's just a correlation between gender and lots of different factors. Correlation is not causation, and men and women aren't identical.

The idea that employers consistently pay men more money than necessary is implausible. Employers want to pay people as little money as possible! If women were available to do the exact same work for a much lower cost than men, self-interested employers would respond by hiring only women. Obviously, that doesn't happen.
posted by John Cohen at 4:10 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anne-Marie Slaughter, in Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, wrote:
I continually push the young women in my classes to speak more. They must gain the confidence to value their own insights and questions, and to present them readily. My husband agrees, but he actually tries to get the young men in his classes to act more like the women—to speak less and listen more. If women are ever to achieve real equality as leaders, then we have to stop accepting male behavior and male choices as the default and the ideal.
I want a model of discourse in which we all behave like adults: mostly calm, as rational as possible, and informed but not controlled by our emotions. I would like a model of discourse in which stereotypically female emotions are less stigmatized, and stereotypically male emotions — especially destructive ones — are not given a free pass.


This is my favorite part of the article, I think. Partly because I'm a guy who's thinking and discussion style tends towards the fox side of the hedgehog-fox dichotomy. I often find myself qualifying my statements reflexively (in fact, look, there it is in the last two sentences I typed). And I would love it if confidence were less often mistaken for accuracy, if thoughtful dialog in turn were respected more than assertiveness, if we ended up with an ideal model of discussion close to what she describes.

The other think I like about the article is that Dziura does a fantastic job of modeling this. She could have painted her debate opponent as a two-dimensional antagonist, for example, but she gave him some credit without giving up her argument. Or, if you like, contrast Dziura's and Slaughter's statements in the selection I quoted above. I agree with all of it broadly. But looking at both closely, Dzuira's statement reads as less gender-divided to me -- she qualifies "male" and "female" emotions with the word stereotypically, it's pretty non-reactive with a neutral and broadly respectable goal, even as it's very feminist. Well done. I'd love to see more of this.
posted by weston at 4:12 PM on November 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


If women were available to do the exact same work for a much lower cost than men, self-interested employers would respond by hiring only women.

You are ignoring the self-interested desire to maintain group status, which doesn't hold if "others" are allowed in. Employers want to pay themselves a lot of money, after all, and they can't do that if they can't slice the pie to eliminate people unlike themselves....
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:13 PM on November 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


The idea that employers consistently pay men more money than necessary is implausible.

Only if you're stupid.

Look, you're right that it's beyond rare that any group of people at a company looks at a pile of resumes and decides to hire the women and pay them less. It's never that overt.

It's much more subtle, stemming from the cumulative effects of lots of small biases. This is in addition to the biological clock - which you've failed to account for entirely.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:18 PM on November 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


Well I really liked the article, personally.

I mean, it's basically Kyriarchy 101 to point out that those who create the power structures will, either intentionally or unintentionally, craft them so that they favor the creators. Still, this was an interesting subject I hadn't considered before, and made me remember Cam'ron's "You Mad" bit on O'Reilly, which is always beautiful.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:21 PM on November 18, 2012


Yes, also I have definitely seen employers and colleagues seem to take it into account if a man has kids before making layoff decisions. I remember one person who people were whispering might get laid off a while ago, and people were like, "But he has a wife and KIDS!!" And I was like, "Well, but it's business, and his wife works?" And they were like, "He has KIDS!!"

Of course you wouldn't want to see anyone laid off, but I've only seen the worry about who would provide for the family in relation to men.
posted by sweetkid at 4:22 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not to get off-topic, but the reasons men make more money than women are subtle, complex, and not easily captured by simple statistics:

http://usgovinfo.about.com/cs/censusstatistic/a/womenspay.htm

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303592404577361883019414296.html

Hint: the answer isn't simple gender discrimination.
posted by docjohn at 4:25 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Good article. A point not to miss, however, is that being emotional does not necessarily preclude being reasonable. It is possible to remain rational in argument whilst still being angry, tearful, or whatever. It takes more effort, but it can be done, and often is done. Simply dismissing someone's argument because they are also displaying emotion is pure fallacy.
posted by Decani at 4:30 PM on November 18, 2012 [10 favorites]


And if anyone ever sees a woman with road rage, they should write it up and send it to a medical journal.

Okay, when I read this quote from a transsexual neurobiologist, I knew I was no longer dealing with someone objectively looking at the question. Perhaps she should read a newspaper once and a while (and this isn't the only case just in Minnesota recently).

That said, I agree with the premise that women and men are equally emotional, but they tend to express those emotions in different, somewhat culturally determined ways.
posted by Mental Wimp at 4:33 PM on November 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


I know we are human beings and not orangutans, but we're still a lot more like orangutans than we are like rational floating-brain creatures. So when people are deciding who to agree with, or who to vote for, we often look at nonverbal and subtle physical cues to decide who is "winning" a conversation beyond who is speaking calmly. Among these things is somethings rearing up on your hinds and demonstrating dominance in some way. RAAAAWRR I AM STRONGEST! I POINT AT YOU I WIN DEBATE! It'll be a long time until our political discourse is free of that gladiatorial element, if it ever will be. Women (politicians and experts) are learning to play that public game as well as men, for better or worse, in that they can exploit the emotional palette to win points in the theater of cable news.

If you want calm rational disagreement, listen to NPR, if you can stay awake. Limbaugh's diatribe is as expertly crafted as Maddow's sarcastic clap--designed to appeal to our basest emotions to fire us up about the opinions that we already hold.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:33 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Hint: the answer isn't simple gender discrimination."

Hint: try reading those articles again.
posted by jammy at 4:33 PM on November 18, 2012 [6 favorites]


On my phone, so searching and linking are a pain, but I know I read something recently about the pay gap being measurable even for new college grads in their first jobs. Yes, hours worked and industry were controlled for. No one had kids yet. Yes, women still made less.

More on topic, on if the first thoughts I had when I read this and the first few comments here was that is Bobby Knight had burst into tears instead of throwing chairs whenever his players did something wrong he would not have kept his job for long.
posted by rtha at 4:38 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


When I cry and express hurt, I'm being "too emotional" or "manipulative".

When I shout and express anger, I'm "being a bitch".

When I remain calm and rational, I'm "cold" or "passive-aggressive".

Life would be easier if I were a robot, Michael.

-----

Good article.
posted by peacrow at 4:50 PM on November 18, 2012 [20 favorites]


A little perspective from someone's who gender-transitioned in the middle of an academic career:

For a decade of my life as a professor, I lived as a woman. Now, I note that I didn't actually identify as female, but nobody else seemed to notice, and I showed up to conferences and faculty meetings in my makeup and blouses as expected. I was no pushover in debates--I was quite assertive. I had to be, or I'd be talked over and ignored by male colleagues. It generally worked, and nobody ever commented that I was intimidating them or going over the top.

Then I began my transition to male. About two years into my medical transition, by which time I'd developed a healthy goatee, I realized that something weird was happening. I hadn't changed my style of conversation or debate at all, but it occurred to me that people were reacting uncomfortably--professional peers were drawing back subtly, looking down. In class, when responding to the inevitable cases of silly student comments (global warming can't exist because it's cold outside; Rome fell because of homosexuality), I made two female student commenters cry. I'd never done that before.

What I came to realize was that very self-assertive comments, when read as being voiced by a woman, are seen as nonthreatening, but when viewed as coming from a man, are taken much more seriously. At a mightly 5'2", I was now inspiring fear.

So: part of male privilege, in my experience, is the power that is granted to men's anger. Even in small doses--just being snappish--it is considered intimidating. This lets men get their way more easily, and the rewards of winning through expressions of anger reenforce further angry behavior.

There's a cost to making much use of this power, of course: people generally dislike bullies--as well they ought. You may get the Machiavellian thrill of power over others, but even Machiavelli thought it was ideally better to be loved than feared. I cannot for the life of me understand why Rush Limbaugh would want to be Rush Limbaugh.

Not wanting to be a jerk, but a gentleman, I had to consciously work on changing my behavior. Which is way, when people ask me about transitioning to male, and whether I found myself more prone to anger with all this testosterone flowing through my veins, I have to smile. I am, in fact, a less angry person now, more gentle in my conversations, more reserved and quiet in debate.

But if I do yell, people take it a lot more seriously.
posted by DrMew at 4:59 PM on November 18, 2012 [132 favorites]


It'd be hard to find any large company in america which paid two recent graduates entering the same role different amounts simply based on gender (although I'm sure historically that's happened). What pushes the gender pay gap is a combination of industries (women tend to enter lowered paid industries) and the glass ceiling.

Have you ever had to negotiate your own salary? Alternatively, have you never encountered a manager with the power to negotiate salaries who did not think, personally, that women are less capable than men?

I have spoken to several female co-workers who, one way or the other, have found that their male equals have been paid a much higher starting salary for the identical job. Discrimination based on gender is an actual, real thing that exists in companies that you'd think would be more ethical.

Interestingly, the owner of a company my woman works for has admitted that if he could, he'd fire the male staff and hire only women. Even in industries where physical strength and endurance are at a premium, Dude-Bro bravado is a liability.
posted by klanawa at 5:10 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


I know I do this. I've done this on Metafilter. Men do this!
posted by roboton666 at 5:19 PM on November 18, 2012


I cannot for the life of me understand why Rush Limbaugh would want to be Rush Limbaugh.

I don't think people fear him, though, they just (wholly correctly) think he is a greasy lump of shit that has somehow gained the powers of speech through horrible dark magicks.
posted by elizardbits at 5:23 PM on November 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hey, times are changing. We've only been doing this since WWII and with every passing year things are slowly equalizing.

I'm not writing from the future, but I do work in a place in which 99% of the leadership is all female. What I've experienced has little to do with emotion and a lot to do with how people perceive their own "gender roles" and how they fit their gender into new roles that they may not be familiar with.

That goes for both males and females. I've seen male bosses let females do whatever the fuck they want because they're afraid of making the girls cry...yea some people still play that card and it isn't helping. I've seen male bosses harass the living shit out of females for the purpose of forcing them to quit their jobs. Horrible and sick. I've also seen a female boss tear apart a male employee to the point of suicide because he wouldn't participate in sexual stuff...she learned after the fact that he was a gay man.

Anyway, we're all working on this. Do YOUR part. Whatever position you hold, manager, uber-boss or fellow employee...you can do your part by eliminating gender as a factor for any of your decision making!
posted by snsranch at 5:30 PM on November 18, 2012


I have found out, quite by accident, that you can use this gender imbalance in business to your advantage: simply take the time to praise the women you work with for the excellent work they do, when they do it, and take the time to praise the men you work with for the excellent work they do, when they do it.

I've found that when I treat people as equals, the quiet folks get more outspoken and the loud folks get less argumentative, and so the team balances out nicely as far as people having a voice. It also seems to make people feel more loyal to the team, and people who aren't performing -- and thus are being outperformed by people of both genders -- start to compare their performance to the whole team (rather than just the men or the women) and so there's more peer pressure they self-apply to justify improving their performance.

As a result, I work with happy teams of happy people, unless/until some higher-up sticks their head into things and screws it up -- but as I'm currently on a team where that doesn't happen, all is well in my little corner of the world.

What does treating people equally have to do with gender inequality in the workplace? Simply this: people are so used to it, that if you foster a culture of equality, it throws people out of their normal habits and perspectives, and facilitates more change within the group. It shouldn't work, really; it shouldn't be so odd to be treated like equals. Nevertheless, it works, and it has worked for me several times in a row with different teams.

So, play against type, treat people like equals, and outperform the teams that struggle with gender imbalance. Sooner or later people will leave your teams, and spread that approach to other teams, and perhaps things will get better*, even if nobody is quite sure what's different.

*or not, but I can dream.
posted by davejay at 5:32 PM on November 18, 2012 [7 favorites]


What I came to realize was that very self-assertive comments, when read as being voiced by a woman, are seen as nonthreatening, but when viewed as coming from a man, are taken much more seriously. At a mightly 5'2", I was now inspiring fear.


Very interesting experience, thanks for sharing, DrMew.

I am so bad with emotional anger ( not dishing it out; receiving/responding to it, that is) at the workplace. It's terrible. I thought as I got older I would be more resilient to it; I honestly think I'm worse now, sigh.
posted by smoke at 5:32 PM on November 18, 2012


So in high school I was on an all-girls robotics competition team mentored by a group of mostly-male engineering students from the big state university nearby. On day one they sat us down and told us how engineers, particularly male engineers, like to work out technical issues by what seems to be arguing, but which isn't at all personal and we should not be intimidated or scared by it. So awesome -- two years on this team, I learn to argue my way through engineering discussions with the big boys.

Now I work in industry at a male-dominated company, and I engineer-argue my way through discussions along with everyone else. But I can't tell you how often someone takes me aside after a meeting to ask if they've upset me or to apologize for arguing with me.

Obviously, my attempt to emulate my male peers is coming across as "emotional."
posted by olinerd at 5:38 PM on November 18, 2012 [5 favorites]


Obviously, my attempt to emulate my male peers is coming across as "emotional."

Not necessarily, I put it equally likely that the individuals in question know they are clueless about social queues and in the past found out way too late that their style put someone out. We can count on never getting anywhere in these discussions if we aren't at least open to have a direct conversation about how things are going without reading more into it.
posted by meinvt at 5:43 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think this might be the study rtha was thinking of.
posted by ootandaboot at 6:03 PM on November 18, 2012


"Emotion vs. objective reason in decision making, or behavior in general, is straw-person argument. Evidence continues to mount, indicating that all decisions are emotional. Here's a more consumer-friendly read.

Thus "emotion", which is universal in ALL decision making, takes on cultural "forms" - those forms are themselves impacted a positive feedback loop between emotional decision-making and cultural evolution.
posted by Vibrissae at 6:10 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


As a cyclist, I can honestly say that just as many women drivers as men have tried to strike me with their vehicles.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:04 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I am a woman who tends to be very aggressive and masculine in her presentation, which has served me well in the male-dominated environments I've been in up till now. But now I find myself at a female-dominated company, and behavior that in a male-dominated company would be seen as maybe obnoxious but not noteworthy gets me in serious trouble. On the flip side, it is not viewed as a horrible thing to have someone who has been pushed too far actually break down in tears. So far I've never seen tears misused for manipulation nor have I ever seen anyone looked down on for that sort of display of emotion. It's a great place to work, and I'm happy to be pushed to tone down my bullying side.
posted by ch1x0r at 7:11 PM on November 18, 2012


lol @ Kyriarchy 101
posted by zscore at 7:40 PM on November 18, 2012


And if anyone ever sees a woman with road rage, they should write it up and send it to a medical journal.

Well, if that's how I get my 15 minutes, then...

But seriously, I get major road rage. In the past I have stopped my car in traffic, gotten out and aggressively addressed the driver who "wronged" me. I've really worked to temper it so I don't get killed by somebody more unhinged than me. It's been a long time now, but...yeah. It's not a solely male behavior to get mad at asshole, idiotic, dangerous drivers.
posted by Miko at 8:10 PM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wasn't sure whether to post but I have Relevant Experience. One night at a public meeting I got in a fairly heated argument with a male official, who was shouting and interrupting and turning red and looked like a very angry tomato. It was a really inappropriate level of vitriol to be shouting, but nobody was reacting like it was inappropriate. (I mean, this is a school context, and this was an official with classroom experience; if a student were shouting in that fashion, he'd get suspended for being so threatening.) When I responded (and the guy kept trying to interrupt me but I had the microphone then), I got choked up and my eyes got red and teary, because it was a really, really personal issue. I made it through my statement quite fluently, with my voice just tighter with emotion than normal, and I wasn't actively CRYING, but the rest of the room (except the interrupting male official) reacted with shocked awkwardness at my display of emotion.

The B-roll behind the narration on ALL the nightly local news shows was my cryface, because that was noteworthy as an "emotional response to [so-and-so's] statement." But the rage-tomato's completely inappropriately behavior was a "statement" or at worst a "complaint" and HIS totally uncontrolled emotion didn't make the B-roll. My fairly controlled display of emotion did, and was referred to in EVERY report as "emotional." He was not referred to as "emotional" at all. His emotional state was mostly ignored, or in one place called "impassioned."

I know all these reporters and like them and I don't think any of them are misogynists; I think it was mostly that they were trying to put together a story in a short period of time about a boring local government meeting, but clearly the preferred narrative to highlight was a woman's "emotional" response to a man's firm (or, at worst, "impassioned") statement. It was moderately infuriating.

Also, UGGGGGGH, watching your own cryface in action. UGGGGGH.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:54 PM on November 18, 2012 [33 favorites]


Fascinating article. Also loved DrMew's comment!
posted by greenhornet at 11:28 PM on November 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I find the male-female crying divide quite interesting. I have a number of female friends who regularly cry for a whole host of reasons, but discussing it with my male friends (who I think are honest enough to not lie about this), crying is very, very rare. I know that personally I've not really cried for years and years (although sometimes films cause me to well up, that's a slightly different response than crying because of personal emotions).

I understand that in other cultures male crying has been more accepted. I wonder if men not crying is just the outcome of years of active repression of tears. If you know from the age of 12 or so that crying is simply not acceptable (whether it's because you're told that, or because you want to prove that you're grown up) then supressing tears becomes second nature. It would be interesting to know if there's any studies on this.
posted by leo_r at 1:33 AM on November 19, 2012


I know what you mean, leo_r. I've been very close to a few guys who are relatively calm, certainly not agressive, and generally less 'macho' than the male stereotype. Two of them have told me that the only times they've cried in the past 15 years were A. when a beloved pet died, and B. while watching Toy Story 3. That's it. They didn't cry when family members died, when they were stressed or depressed, or when they were cheated on.

Equally, I had one ex who was a crier, and I hated it. I also hate admitting it, because it is pure sexism. For some reason I've internalised the idea that men who cry are unattractive.

As the whole 'crying' thing demonstrates, sexism stifles both genders. I couldn't imagine going through emotional strife without allowing myself the catharsis of crying.

I like this article. It's tricky to balance commenting on gendered perceptions of emotions without generalising behaviour, but I think the author acknowledges this difficulty and just about manages to overcome it.

I have a theory that the reason why female comedians are generally considered 'less funny' is because comedy consumers associate humour with a particularly aggressive mode of delivery. The comedian Jo Brand refuses to go on the comedy panel show Mock the Week for this reason.
posted by dumdidumdum at 4:03 AM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


A recent study that shows that both male and female senior scientists judge the same resume as less qualified and deserving of less money with a female name on it than with a male name on it.

Previously discussed on Metafilter.

As a woman who works in science and experiences this nonsense, it is still mindboggling to me that this stuff still goes on, so I understand why it is hard for those who have not experienced this kind of discrimination to believe it exists. Hopefully, this (5000th) discussion of this issue and presentation of empirical data will be the one that persuades some you to take this issue seriously and quit dismissing the pay gap as something easily explained away.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:25 AM on November 19, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think the author has a point but I have to take exception with the choice of examples used. TV shows are a poor place to look for examples of genuine debate. TV debate is meant to draw attention and nothing draws attention like a fight.
I also question the authors assumption that one gender's emotional expression does not precluded debate but the others does.

Also thank you for sharing DrMew. And I would also ask you to consider your students motives in crying to you. As a man I was brought up from an early age not to make women cry , and it can also be an effective way to manipulate me. I understand other women are less charitable regarding crying in academic circles.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 7:04 AM on November 19, 2012


Can we please put aside this nonsense about crying to manipulate someone of the opposite sex? I currently work in a context where two of my female colleagues cry quite readily, particularly if you have to call them out on something they've done that you don't like. They are as prone to crying for me (female) as they are to crying for a guy. I can see why some view it as manipulative, because no-one wants to see others cry, but it's more about manipulating people, not just members of the opposite sex.
posted by LN at 7:30 AM on November 19, 2012


LN I hope you don't think that I am saying that women cry only to men to manipulate them. I was asking DrMew to consider the difference he perceived in terms of the students having a different perception of him as well. I can't speak to your experience but I was inculcated to hate it when women cry and I will go out of my way to avoid it. That may well be my own issue but other men I have talked to have had expressed similar sentiments. I spent a considerable amount of time as an NCO in the military and have had to stress both women and men to the point of tears, I was always more reluctant to do that with women.

I did find this study indicating that female tears smelled in a study decreased male testosterone level significantly. I hope they test for similar effects on women and report the results soon as it would be interesting to see if this effects women as well.
posted by The Violet Cypher at 8:09 AM on November 19, 2012


Crying isn't always about manipulating people. Sometimes it's about being upset.
posted by jeather at 11:15 AM on November 19, 2012 [8 favorites]


Violet Cypher, my impression is that most of us, of whatever gender, are raised to avoid making people cry. As for the two students who cried when I made quick work of demolishing their silly comments, I don't think they were trying to manipulate me. I think they felt attacked and belittled.

It's true that women are given more social permission to cry, just as men are given more social permission to express anger. It's also true that sometimes a woman who is crying may be allowed to get her way because of her emotional display of sadness, as men expressing anger can get their way through their emotional displays. On the other hand, a woman's opinion may be discounted rather than deferred to when she cries, as others have pointed out. Further, if a woman's desires prevail because the other party in an argument made her cry, the other party is the one positioned as having dominance in the situation. If a man's desire prevails because he is expressing anger, he's the one seen as dominant.

In sum, while women may try to manipulate others by crying, I think it happens much less often as men yelling to get their way, because it's not a socially empowering strategy. I think most people of any gender who are crying do so simply because they are upset.

I feel my responsibility as a man is to avoid bullying people into tears. But it is also to avoid panicking if someone does cry, and to accept that as a valid expression of emotion.
posted by DrMew at 11:32 AM on November 19, 2012 [3 favorites]


TV shows are a poor place to look for examples of genuine debate. TV debate is meant to draw attention and nothing draws attention like a fight.

But one of her examples was a TV debate in which a "fight" was two people articulately disagreeing with each other in complete sentences. I found it riveting. Or is it not a TV show debate if the two debaters are women?

Who decided on that definition of TV debate anyway? Why is it that a fight draws attention? Whose attention is being drawn? Men's!

I tune away from fights on TV. I can't stand to watch the shouting matches. Watching that ignorant asshat mansplain to Rachel Maddow was excruciating for me. So obviously this "nothing draws attention like a fight" truism is no such thing.

Crying isn't always about manipulating people. Sometimes it's about being upset.

As a person who cannot cry on demand, and does not know anyone who can, I'd put the ratio of manipulation:being upset at 1:100. Maybe higher.
posted by caryatid at 11:39 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


Have you ever had to negotiate your own salary? Alternatively, have you never encountered a manager with the power to negotiate salaries who did not think, personally, that women are less capable than men?

It may also be that there is a culturally induced greater reluctance on the part of women to negotiate (or renegotiate) hard for pay. It takes a certain amount of self-confidence and assertiveness to push back against an initial offer or to push for a larger raise. Overt conflict avoidance plays into this as well as a caretaker mentality wherein the boss is one being cared for. While there are plenty of women who are tough negotiators for themselves, in my experience they represent a smaller proportion than among men. Until women are taught and encouraged to stand up for themselves in a similar manner, this will inevitably lead to lower salaries for women.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:07 PM on November 19, 2012


Until women are taught and encouraged to stand up for themselves in a similar manner, this will inevitably lead to lower salaries for women.

How about we instead teach managers to not offer women lower salaries?
posted by caryatid at 12:19 PM on November 19, 2012 [6 favorites]


How about we instead teach managers to not offer women lower salaries?

Then the disproportionately male candidates who push back against those initially offered, equal-for-men-and-women salaries to negotiate a higher one will be paid more. This is how it works in most places. It depends upon the organization wanting the people they're making offers to, of course, but as someone who has participated in a lot of hiring at a various levels, you can get a better salary just by negotiating for it. Disproportionately, women just accept the first offer.

In addition, a man is much more likely to come into the boss's office and ask for a raise or for a bigger raise. They're more likely to go out and seek an outside offer and ask the boss to match it. Unless you're dealing with a system where everyone is paid a scale (and those usually don't differ by sex), this phenomenon will tend to create a disparity between salaries.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:45 PM on November 19, 2012


My girlfriend experienced a sort of "emotional dismissal" recently, when she made a complaint about a professor who was particularly insensitive when speaking about people with mental health issues during a lecture. This is a very personal issue for my girlfriend, so she was visibly upset while making her case. The faculty members turned it right around on her, saying that they were "concerned about HER" because she was obviously SO affected by the professor's lecture. They should have seen her expression of ANGER when she got home!
posted by orme at 1:59 PM on November 19, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is how it works in most places. It depends upon the organization wanting the people they're making offers to, of course, but as someone who has participated in a lot of hiring at a various levels, you can get a better salary just by negotiating for it. Disproportionately, women just accept the first offer.

As someone who has participated in the workforce for more than four decades (including some hiring), my experience as a woman has been: attempt to negotiate for a higher salary, and you won't get hired. Ask for a well-deserved raise, and you will be laid off/fired at the next convenient opportunity.

So forgive me if I don't think the perfect solution is demanding that women learn to stand up for themselves.
posted by caryatid at 2:11 PM on November 19, 2012 [17 favorites]


"Then the disproportionately male candidates who push back against those initially offered, equal-for-men-and-women salaries to negotiate a higher one will be paid more. This is how it works in most places."

Yes, but one of the points of this thread is that there's no reason it HAS to work in such a way as to privilege (culturally) male modes of communication and prefer male advancement. There's no reason the cultural norm couldn't be that salaries are decided collaboratively and openly by a team, or that salaries move in lockstep for all people in a particular role, or that men who ask for raises are seen as too arrogant to work in a team setting, or some other alternative cultural norm.

"Look, women just need to do things the way men do, to fit in, because male modes are standard and normal and female modes are unusual and abnormal. The world is male," is exactly what the post is complaining about.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:25 PM on November 19, 2012 [17 favorites]


There's no reason the cultural norm couldn't be that salaries are decided collaboratively and openly by a team, or that salaries move in lockstep for all people in a particular role, or that men who ask for raises are seen as too arrogant to work in a team setting, or some other alternative cultural norm.

Yes, I was describing one mechanism by which the culture creates a negative differential for women's pay, not suggesting that's the way it should be.
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2012


It was also mentioned upthread that it's been found that women who try to negotiate higher salaries or ask for raises are viewed more negatively than men who do the same. So it's not just a simple matter of women doing as men do, not when women are taking a significantly bigger risk to their careers and financial security.
posted by keep it under cover at 2:51 PM on November 19, 2012 [10 favorites]


The article is a little reductive in that there is a lot wrapped up in what she is talking about, and she doesn't really touch on things like display rules and 'performing gender'. Interesting thoughts though.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:09 PM on November 19, 2012


I think that the only way to have more equality in pay is to make it a lot less personal (like having set amounts for people in certain job titles, with clearly defined performance levels) and a lot more transparent. People get all private about how much they are paid, but really that just creates an environment ripe for growing inequality and abuse. If pay is more public, then women will know when men doing the same job are being paid more -- it wouldn't take someone like Lilly Ledbetter, for example, decades to find out that she was being underpaid.

I've worked in places where the pay I got was even on a public website, everyone was paid exactly the same amount, and no one had a problem with that. All of us still worked our butts off, and there were no problems with some people negotiating higher pay than others.
posted by jb at 5:13 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's how it's done in Scandinavia, jb.

Scandinavia, where the US satirist PJ O' Rourke once commented - "(It)works, but it shouldn't." In the grand tradition of "jantelag", where no-one is better than anyone else, Sweden, Norway and Finland publish everyone's income and tax details, every year. Sweden's 'tax calendars' are published in stages, starting with ordinary taxpayers, then high income earners from company bosses to celebrities.

Norway's been making similar details open to the public since 1863. Its "skatteliste", or tax list, includes personal income, tax burden, and where people rank on a list of national averages. Searching for a particular individual used to require a host of lengthy paperwork, but under the new rules it all became instantly available online through a searchable database.

posted by keep it under cover at 6:25 PM on November 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I agree with jb that the very system of negotiated salaries is itself a tool for controlling the workforce with secrecy, and that it's pretty much useless outside of maybe CEO and perhaps a handful of other negotiations where compensation packages might reasonably need to be tailored to an individual's preferences. There are honestly very few jobs where negotiating salary impacts performance or job acceptance. It's a system that allows sexist (and racist, and other) questionable practices to be maintained under a veil of plausible ("well, he asked, you didn't") deniability.
posted by Miko at 5:39 AM on November 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


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